Its all about stripes

 

A blue pinstriped apron immediately conjures an image of a butcher. But it has been more than a decade since they were a common sight in butchers' shops.

 

The pinstripes distinguished a master butcher from his apprentice. The master butcher wore a broad stripe apron but only if he progressed in the trade without an apprenticeship. If he had trained through an apprenticeship then the broad stripe was accompanied by a narrow stripe. Apprentices wore a narrow striped apron, until they finished their training. Until a few decades ago, an apprenticeship lasted seven years.

 

WHY THE BLUE STRIPES?

Butchers donned the blue striped apron as far back as the 16th century. Historians are unsure when the stripes became part of the uniform but it is widely accepted it was around this period. The apron was worn with pride because it was a unique symbol of a butcher's work and a qualified tradesman.

 

WHAT DO THE COLOUR AND STRIPES MEAN?

 

A broad stripe apron signifies a master butcher. A lone broad stripe indicates the butcher works without any form of apprenticeship. A broad stripe accompanied by a thin line signifies the butcher trained through a five-year apprenticeship. Three stripes symbolise the master is training apprentices. The Butcher's Guild, an association of butchers which began around the 10th century determined the apron's colour. Called Butcher's blue, it's the colour of the Butchers Guild's crest and, coincidentally, the best colour to conceal stains